I’m a woman who provides in-home pet-care services to a businessman who’s frequently travelling. For his longer trips I often stay overnights to make sure the pet doesn’t feel abandoned. There’s a spare room that I use.
Over the 18 months that I’ve have been pet-sitting there, I brought a few items into the home: two ceramic pet dishes to help prevent acne from developing on the pet's chin, a pair of slippers to wear (at the owner’s request), a tea mug and a small cushion.
Over this past Christmas the owner’s long-distance girlfriend visited him. According to him, the girlfriend, believing something personal was going on between us, took my pet-care items and threw them away. He didn’t stop her.
What can I do to respond in a professional manner, to address the loss of my work items and the wrongful dispersion cast on me as a paid service-provider to this businessman?
Let Down by Employer
Even if this man provides you with a steady income, he threw you under the bus. At the very least, he should’ve reimbursed you for the tossed items. Worse, he left you with a questionable reputation from his girlfriend’s view.
As a professional wanting to clear your reputation from whatever she may say about you, I suggest you write her a polite letter expressing what her unjustified reaction means to you as a woman doing an honest job to earn a living.
Send a second letter that describes these circumstances without naming the client or his girlfriend, to professional associations you belong to, also veterinarians and pet shops which may send clients to you, and to the businessman who should pay you for new items.
Don’t renew a commitment to look after his pets. Instead, make a concerted outreach to new potential clients, after your letter circulates among your contacts.
One warning: Before you send either letter, have a thoughtful friend look it over so this issue doesn’t turn into something more problematic.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding whether a friendship between a married man and a woman associate through work, is “emotional cheating” (January 20):
“I went through a similar situation, but it had to do with a friend’s wife. She and I had dated for about three months before my friend met her. When we broke up, they got together and eventually married.
“When my wife and I were dating, there were many occasions when the four of us would be together and there was no problem.
“After we were married it came out that me and this woman had a relationship and my wife went ballistic.
“She refused to see them and would have a fit if I had a beer with my friend, even without his wife. This went on for years and didn’t end until our marriage did.
“One day, while having drinks with my ex’es sister and her husband, her sister said she believed it was because my wife was unfaithful all during our marriage, which I did not know.
“I’m only saying this to give some insight into this issue.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the grieving widow (January 19):
Reader – “I also lost my husband recently to an unknown illness. Please accept my thanks for the help to motivate me to get some counseling and work through my grief.
“If I could say one thing to anyone else who’s grieving a lost loved one, it’d be that life has to end, but your memories will never die.”
Reader #2 – “I read today’s letter from the grieving wife with recognition. My husband died suddenly of a heart attack at age 60, seven years ago. I was in shock for an extended period and then suffered from anxiety related to the loss. I found bereavement support through my local hospice, both group and one-on-one, very affirmative - my fellow grievers supported me.
“I found Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking about her feelings after her husband’s death under similar circumstances very comforting and worth sharing with future grieving writers.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with advancing dementia whose adult children rarely visited her.
Reader – “Children mirror what they see and experience. If they see their parents valuing the older generation and spending time with them, they’ll do the same with their parents when they’re older.
“Treat your own parents as you would want to be treated when you’re old and frail. The children are watching.”
Tip of the day:
In personal-service work, walk away from clients who disrespect you.